Reviving a storied brand requires calm nerves and just enough bravery to be bold without getting carried away. Good thing resurrecting this legendary brand came with plenty of Oregon-made beer.
Most good folks of a certain age in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest remember Henry Weinhard’s Private Reserve as a“premium” beer that was so approachable and affordable that pretty much everyone simply called the brand “Henry’s.” And from the day the first bottles rolled off the production line in Portland, Henry Weinhard’s Private Reserve has always been about making what’s old new again.
See, back in 1976, the Blitz-Weinhard company took inspiration from gone-but-not-forgotten Henry Weinhard – a German immigrant largely acknowledged as the founder of beer making in Portland–and introduced Private Reserve based on a 19th century recipe that did away with the use of adjuncts and additions popular in mass-produced beer and instead relied on a simplified concoction of malted barley, hops and water.
The new suds were a spectacular sensation with beer imbibers and there’s little question the success of Henry Weinhard’s Private Reserve set the stage for the craft beer explosion that would rock Portland, the Pacific Northwest and the rest of the country in the coming generation. Private Reserve would continue to be brewed on West Burnside Street in Portland for at least another two decades. When a string of corporate owners eventually moved production elsewhere, Private Reserve continued to enjoy loyal fans and strong brand recognition. (Rumor around the AHM office is that one staffer attended a wedding reception where cases of Private Reserve were conveyed from Washington state to Utah in a modern-day Smokey and the Bandit scenario.)
So it was a sad day in 2021 when word came down from whomever makes these types of decisions that Henry Weinhard’s Private Reserve would be discontinued. Few brands can claim legendary status, but Private Reserve stood shoulder-to-shoulder with some of beer’s great ones and would soon be lamented across Oregon and the Pacific Northwest with a common refrain from weary shoppers: “Where the #@!% is Henry’s?”
Enter the slightly addled and severely beer-obsessed minds at Hop Valley and their enablers here at AHM Brands. Instead of seeing Private Reserve as a brand being quietly laid to rest, we instead sensed an opportunity to let a legend catch some well-earned z’s so he can wake up refreshed and join Hop Valley’s team of Oregon-based mad scientist innovators right where he belongs.
The resulting “Welcome Home Hank!” campaign successfully reintroduced Henry Weinhard’s Private Reserve with new packaging featuring an old-school look, on-premise teasers, on-and off-premise point-of-sale materials and strategic social media efforts, including influencers, teaser posts and a video series brewed to show just how the free-spirited beer innovators at Hop Valley brought an Oregon original craft to the future.